Well . . . here we are just back from China. As I write this we have been awake for nearly 36 hours. Our day started at 5am this morning, or should I say yesterday morning in Shanghai, and it has taken over 18 hours with a connecting flight to Beijing to catch our flight home to Vancouver. I find the airport security checks in China more stringent than here in North America. They have no regard for personal privacy. They will think nothing of opening ladies purses as if they were their own and just empty the contents for everyone to see. I see the faces of other travellers and know what they are thinking by their expressions but no one dares to say anything as we just want to get home.
I have much to say from my observations of what I believe to be true about life there. There is a big contrast between rich and poor and modern and old. There does not seem to be middle ground. The middle class does not appear to exist. There is much poverty which is hidden from public view. Slums are covered by huge barriers but our bus allows us to view over. I do not believe that foreigners are able to rent cars and from our few days on the road and looking at the road signs I don't think it would be wise anyway as all the signs are in Chinese. You would not be able to find your way without a guide. Motorcycles are NOT allowed on the freeways, tunnels or on the many bridges. No one seems to abide by traffic regulations and traffic signals are just there as suggestions.
Traffic is gridlocked in all the big cities. I thought Vancouver was bad but this is much worse.
The population of Canada is around 35 million and Shanghai is a city of 22 million, Beijing is around 20 million. Traffic is very agressive and this is how it works. If you want to change lanes you just pull a little ahead of the other car and move over slowly without signalling. Another method is to just honk your horn and go for it. All day long you hear the sound of horns. Scooters are the worst. They stop for nothing. If you are crossing the street and you are in the way, they just honk and expect you to move out of the way or slalom around you. Scooters go any direction they want. Going the wrong way on a one way street is very common, or just ride on the sidewalk and honk your horn at pedestrians at the same time.
I had hoped to post some photos during the past couple of weeks but did not know about the Great Firewall of China. The Government has blocked everything that allows free expression such as Blogger and YouTube. I don't think they know about free internet. They charge for internet access based on time.
I don't know exactly where we went but we left early every morning and didn't get back until late every night. It was very tiring with all the walking and the tight timetable. Over the next while I will gather my thoughts and sort out my photos.
We weren't the only ones that were tired as evidenced by this local family
(Forbidden City, Beijing, China)
Little did we know when we planned this vacation that we chose to visit during their National Holidays. This is the time where every one in the country decides to take holidays at the same time and make their pilgramage to Beijing to pay respects to Chairman Mao. Everywhere we went we were met with massive crowds and huge line ups
(Dragon Well Tea Plantation)
When ever you are in an area of large crowds they set up security check points. All bags have to go through airport type scanning machines and if you have pocket bulges you have to show what you have in your pocket. I had to open my pocket to show them my camera lens. We even took the subway and again, all bags have to be scanned before you are allowed into the station. Their subway system is very well thought out. In Beijing the fares are low to encourge less use of resources.
The scenery is very beautiful and they have many historic cities which cater to tourists
(Wuzhen, Water City)
While their cities are very modern and use cutting edge technologies to minimize energy use, others stick to more tradition methods, like this fisherman in one of the many canals
(Traditional fishing, Wuxi, China)